A registered charity, we have offices and staff in England, Ireland, Malawi, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Vinny Smith 
Chief Executive 

I am the Chief Executive of the Meningitis Research Foundation and joined in 2015 having previously been Director of STAND Consulting which advised non-profits in the UK, Africa and US on strategic planning, fundraising and organisational development. I also previously worked at Cancer Research UK for 7 years and later became Chief Operating Officer in the international development and domestic violence sectors. I am the author of a recent conference report on the use of mobile health and technology in West Africa following the Ebola outbreak; a panel member of Rogare the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy and a guest lecturer at the University of the West of England on Organisational Development.

I’m thrilled and lucky to be MRF’s Chief Executive at such an exciting time. Vaccines are already proving their worth in controlling some forms of meningitis and septicaemia in the UK. And research into new and better vaccines for wider protection in the UK must continue to build on this success. At the same time meningitis is still a common cause of death in some of the poorest countries in the world. Whilst those challenges persist, so does our work.

Advocacy and Communications

Rob Dawson
Head of Advocacy and Communications

I joined in 2016 after seeing the great work the charity does to help people affected by meningitis and septicaemia.

I have worked in communications for a range of sectors and bring experience from industry, charities and government.

I am a comms geek and sit on several committees and working groups to help train, mentor and share best practise within the PR and communications industry.

My other passions are plants, theatre and flying trapeze.

Sam Williams
Media Relations Manager

Hi, I’m Sam. My job is to help raise awareness of meningitis, septicaemia and the work of MRF in combatting these diseases through the media. I wouldn’t be able to do this without our members who help us by sharing their stories and personal experiences.

Through the media, I also help to spread word of the fantastic scientific research that is being funded by Meningitis Research Foundation and also the support that the charity offers to those affected by these devastating diseases.

Adrian Robson
Communications Manager

Hi. I'm Adrian Robson. I have worked at MRF and have done since 1999. 

I do lots of e-communications, like this website. 

I also like more old fashioned stuff like writing for publication.

When I'm not doing that I contribute to raising awareness of meningitis and septicaemia and the work of MRF in combating the diseases by contributing to our social media, PR and brand.

Having a true understanding of the devastating effects of the diseases, through our Members, continues to be my main motivation.  

Roisin McAuley
Digital Communications Officer 

Hi, I’m Roisin. I joined Meningitis Research Foundation in September 2015. 

I produce web, social media and multimedia content to promote awareness of meningitis, the work of our charity and news about our members and supporters. 

I love meeting our incredible members and supporters and enjoy helping people share their experience of meningitis and septicaemia – whether it be through video, social media or the Book of Experience

You can reach out to me via email or our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Amy Luker
Communications Officer

Hi, I’m Amy and I joined Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) in October 2012 as a Communications Officer. My role is to look after the various publications we produce and to support the Communications team with PR, visuals, event logistics and e-communications.

I am so pleased to be working for MRF and it is very rewarding to know that the work I do helps support the many people who have been affected by meningitis and septicaemia.


Monika Marchlewicz 
Ireland Manager

Hi, I’m Monika and I have worked for the Foundation since May 2006.

My motto has always been 'Don't just do it - do it with passion and pride!' The true meaning of this was never more apparent than when I started working for the Foundation. It is a privilege to work alongside so many amazing, skilled and passionate people who really do make a difference! I am proud to represent MRF.

My proudest accomplishment is beautiful and smart son. Away from the office, I enjoy outdoor activities, including gardening, and home improvement projects.

Caroline O'Connor 
Medical Information Officer 

I work as the Medical Information Officer for Ireland and have been with the Charity since December 2012.

I enjoy my job as every day is varied and I get to meet and work with a lot of different and inspirational people. I get great satisfaction from promoting meningitis awareness in Ireland and working towards the shared goals of the Foundation.

Membership & Fundraising

Diane McConnell 
Head of Community Engagement and Fundraising 
Deputy CEO

I have been with the charity since 5 April 1995. I love my job and get great satisfaction from working with members and supporters of the charity who are as committed to the cause as I am. 

I have four grown up children and three grandchildren. I like family Sundays and walk, read and garden when I get the time.

Shirley Gieron
Head of Membership and Support

Hi, I'm Shirley and I lead a team of dedicated staff and nurses working within the Membership  and Support department.

My work with members and individuals who have personal experience of meningitis and septicaemia includes home visits, the Telephone Befriending Network, giving talks to health professionals and community groups, running Members' Days and linking with other agencies and charities dealing with neurological and physical disabilities.

I feel privileged to support people affected by these diseases through times of extreme crisis, sharing their experiences and working with them through life changing trauma.

Ian Beningfield 
Deputy Head of Fundraising

Social and new media fan, part time geek and formerly prolific coffee drinker. I've been with the charity since 2004, in the past I was involved with many of the charity's community events including most recently the running programme

These days I spend a lot of my time finding new ways to use technology and the web to boost our fundraising, stay in contact with our members and supporters and baffle my colleagues with jargon.

Kate Lobley

Administration Officer

Hi, I’m Kate and I started at the foundation in January 2016. 

As a Fundraising Administration Officer I am responsible for ensuring that all our member, supporter and donor information is recorded on our system. This includes case histories for those personally affected by the disease, details of those fundraising for us and all the donations the charity receives.

I work closely with the other members of the fundraising team and like to keep up to date and help out with all of their projects. If you have any queries regarding a donation or personal details please feel free to get in touch!

Chloe Milloy

Administration Officer

Hi, I’m Chloe and I joined MRF in March working within the fundraising team.

I am responsible for liaising with other members of staff to ensure that all donations raised by trusts, corporate organisations or the student fundraising team are accurately recorded on the charity database. I am also responsible for keeping up to date records on the database about all of our members and supporters. If you have a query regarding a donation made to the charity, please contact me.

Katherine Freeman
Information and Support Officer

Hi, I’m Katherine and I joined Meningitis Research Foundation in August 2015. I raise awareness of meningitis and septicaemia by sharing medical information about the disease with the general public and health professionals.

I am involved in organising MRF events for families and health professionals, and meet our members and supporters in the community offering our support, whatever their experience of meningitis and septicaemia.

I also take helpline calls and answer emails from people with a range of queries about meningitis and septicaemia, including symptoms and after effects, and offer them support if they or their loved ones are affected.

I am humbled by the inspirational people we meet.

Ellie Foreman
Membership and Fundraising Assistant 

Hi, my name is Ellie and I’m the Membership Fundraising Assistant. This means I look after all of our individual fundraisers who create their own events, or take part in something a bit different. So, if you have any questions, or would like help in organising a fundraising event, just get in touch!

I also have a few other projects in the pipeline, which I’m super excited about, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for updates!

Esther Trackman 
Community Fundraiser 

Hi, I’m Esther

I’m looking after parachuting and some of our key running events – Bath Half Marathon, Silverstone Half MarathonReading Half MarathonGreat Manchester 10kRun to the BeatGreat North Run and Great South Run

My aim is to make sure anyone taking part in an event for us has the best possible experience and achieves everything they set out to do. It’s wonderful to see people reach and surpass their goals, especially as so many of the people I work with are taking part because they have a personal connection with the cause. Meeting supporters at the events is my favourite part of the job, so if you sign up for one of the runs I’m looking after I may well see you soon! 

Clare Mills 
Events Fundraiser 

Hello my name is Clare and I work for the student team here at Meningitis Research Foundation. 

I love travelling and meeting new people, which is why I knew this was the job for me. 

Being part of the student team is so much fun as there is always some amazing event happening or some crazy story from a student. 

If you fancy coming up with a crazy event, need any fundraising ideas or support, just get in contact.

Jenny Robinson
Events Fundraiser 

Hey I’m Jenny!

I’m part of the student team who do anything from climbing Kilimanjaro to running in European marathons. Working with students is vital to us as well as raising funds we can raise awareness within the community as they are the second most affected group from meningitis and septicaemia.

I have supported the charity since climbing Kilimanjaro for MRF in 2012 and cannot wait for the day that we achieve our aim of a world free from meningitis and septicaemia. .

Danielle Duggan 
Community Engagement Officer 

Hi, I’m Danielle and I work in the Membership and Support team. As well as answering helpline calls, I support our Ambassadors who are active members of the charity who all have personal experience of the disease. Ambassadors represent MRF and raise awareness in their local communities by distributing literature, giving talks in schools, colleges and community groups, talking to the media and holding fundraising events.

I also look after our telephone befriending network which offers support to people recently affect by meningitis and septicaemia by putting them in touch with a trained befriender who has had a similar experience of the disease.

I feel very lucky to be able to support people at such a difficult time in their lives and I am inspired by the things members achieve either after having the disease or in memory of a loved one who had the disease.

Northern Ireland

Emma McNeill 
Fundraising Officer 

Hi, I’m Emma and I’ve been with the Foundation since March 2007. 

I am responsible for generating income through our varied calendar of events. My role involves liaising with members and supporters on a daily basis, coming up with new fundraising ideas and coordinating events. 

I myself have taken part in abseils, ziplines and freefalls in order to raise funds and encourage others for their support. I am still amazed by people’s fundraising efforts and the lengths they go, to achieve their goals. 

It’s a real privilege to work with families who have been affected by this truly devastating disease and it’s a constant reminder of how vital my work is. 

Kathryn McAuley
Medical Information Officer 

Hi, I’m Kathryn McAuley. I have worked as Medical Information Officer in the Belfast Office since August 2012. I have a background in Biomedical science and genetics.

My role with MRF is varied and includes implementing dynamic and effective awareness programmes for the general public and health professionals and providing local political leaders and key policy makers with up to date information. I promote symptoms awareness and disease prevention via media campaigns and provide support to those people affected by meningitis and septicaemia.

It’s very rewarding to raise public awareness which may go on to help save a live and a great privilege to provide support to those who have been affected by this disease.

Keli Wilkinson 
Fundraising Officer 

I work as a Fundraising Officer in our Belfast Office and have been with the Foundation since October 2007. 

The role is extremely varied and there is never a dull moment which is great! I work closely with Emma Collins, the other fundraiser in the office, although I am responsible for parachute jumps, overseas challenges, corporate fundraising, marathons and that's just for starters! 

I really enjoy talking to members and supporters and meeting them at events as I think that makes all the difference. I really enjoy being able to help people with their fundraising ideas and find the role very rewarding. 

We are a small team in Belfast but we all work very well together which makes it a great place to work.

Operations and Projects

Mike Taylor 
Head of Operations

I’ve been running my own management training consultancy since 1995, and am excited to have joined MRF in February 2012.

I’m also Chair of Trustees for local arts organisation Circomedia, a custody visitor at our local inner city police station, and mentor for an organisation that supports new social entrepreneurs.

I host a website for local runners, I’m a keen cyclist (I love my 11 mile commute!), and I’ve led charity challenge expeditions in S America, Africa, China, Borneo, and Nepal.

If you wish to share any thoughts, ideas or feedback that can help us here at MRF, please feel free to contact me.


Claire Rooney
Major Gifts Manager 

I look after the individuals and trusts and foundations who make generous gifts to support our medical research portfolio, our life-saving medical information work, awareness raising and support services in the UK as well as our programmatic work in Africa.

I am also responsible for working with people who wish to leave a gift in their Will, and for managing the administration of legacies. 

I’ve been working in fundraising since 2012, with major philanthropists, trusts and foundations. Before that I was a private client solicitor, advising high net worth clients on Wills, trusts and tax planning. I love working in the charity sector, and find it really rewarding to see the impact of the work that I’m fundraising for, and it’s a real pleasure to work with an organisation like MRF.

If you are a Trustee or Grants Manager who would like to find out more about our work, or an individual who would like to make a significant donation, I would love to hear from you. I am also the first point of contact if you are considering leaving us a legacy in your Will, and for solicitors dealing with Will preparation and estate administration.

Alex LetcherAlexandra Letcher
Projects Coordinator 

Hello, I am Alexandra Letcher and I joined MRF in June 2016 as Projects Coordinator. My role is to support the planning, implementation and monitoring of our international projects, with a specific focus on our Action Meningitis health project in Blantyre, Malawi. 

In collaboration with the Malawian Ministry of Health and other partners, we are working to train local healthcare workers and introduce a WHO-approved triage system in clinics using mobile phone technology in order to improve the treatment of seriously ill children. 

With a background in development and humanitarian work in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, I am a passionate advocate of strengthening healthcare systems through building the capacity of healthcare workers in cooperation with national governments. I am delighted to have joined the MRF team as it looks to expand its international reach and impact. 

Paul George

Office Manager and PA to CEO 

I have been with MRF since 1995, initially working 3 hours a day while managing a young family. Since then I have slowly become full time and moved over from fundraising to the position of office manager. 

I am a keen supporter Charlton Athletic. 

Laura Hardidge

Finance and Administration Assistant 

Hi I’m Laura, I joined the charity in April 2016 working in a combined role of office administrator and finance assistant. 

I communicate with all our different departments and offices to make sure they run as smoothly as possible, a sort of groundwork organiser. 

It’s a rewarding and varied role including; dealing with our literature awareness orders, incoming donations and being the first point of call for general queries. 

Working in the MRF team with a great bunch of people is really enjoyable.

Kelly Latham
Finance Manager 

Hi I'm Kelly and I've been working for MRF since May 2004 as the Finance Manager. 

My main role is to process all the income and expenditure for the whole charity including satellite offices and preparing monthly management accounts, but colleagues would agree an important part of my job is paying their wages!

I enjoy working for the charity and hopefully one day I will be able to keep on top of my filing! 

Research and Medical Information

Linda Glennie Linda Glennie
Head of Research and Medical Information

I'm Linda Glennie and I'm Head of Research and Medical Information at MRF where I've worked since 1997.

I work with scientists and health professionals across a range of disciplines to develop information materials for the public and for health professionals, and I've co-authored several educational resources for nurses and trainee doctors. I also organise  the scientific programme for the Foundation’s biennial international conferences.

I'm responsible for managing the administration, peer review and monitoring of the Foundation’s international research programme. In collaboration with the Department of Social Medicine at the University of Bristol I manage the Impact of Meningitis project.

I was a member of the Guideline Development Group for the NICE guideline on Bacterial Meningitis and Meningococcal Septicaemia, published June 2010.

I have a background in biological sciences.

Claire Wright Claire Wright
Medical Information Manager

My name is Claire and my role as Medical Information Officer involves working on the educational materials that MRF distributes to health professionals and the public, making sure that it is up to date with findings from current research. 

I also try to answer specific medical questions we receive about meningitis and septicaemia and promote the charity's work at conferences around the country. 

It’s very rewarding to work on awareness literature which may go on to help save lives and support those who have been affected by this disease.

Anna Jones
Research Officer 

Hello, my name is Anna and I oversee the peer review and monitoring of MRF’s international research programme. I work closely with the Scientific Advisory Panel and am the main point of contact for our researchers. I enjoy working with the Comms team to translate scientific research into bite size articles for use on social media, on our website and in press releases. I also organise the academic poster exhibition at our international conference as-well-as several other smaller scientific events throughout the year.


Mary Millar 
Scotland Office Manager 

I'm Mary Millar and I'm the Scotland Manager. I joined MRF in July 2009.

My background is in marketing and advertising within the private sector, skills which I have found useful in promoting the Foundation further in Scotland, and driving forward increased awareness, support and fundraising campaigns.

I really enjoy being involved with all our Scottish Members and Supporters, and helping to make a difference to our important cause.

Alison Baker 
Fundraising Officer 

Hi, I'm Alison and I work in the Edinburgh office of the Foundation. 

I've been working in a fundrasing role since 2006 and I thoroughly enjoy the large variety of fundraising that our office deals with. 

I'm happy to help with all things fundraising in Scotland. 

Katie Yule 
Fundraising Officer 

Hi, I’m Katie and I joined Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) in January 2016 to work in the Edinburgh office as Community Fundraiser. It’s a privilege to be working for such a fantastic charity, that’s impact can be seen both in the UK and internationally. 

My role is to support members and supporters in Scotland with their fundraising events and further develop our community based fundraising in Scotland. I enjoy meeting new people and relish the challenge of bringing ideas to life, however crazy they may be!  

Dawn Carrie
Office/Fundraising Administrator

Hi , I'm Dawn and I started at the Foundation in August 2009 and as an Office and Fundraising Assistant in the Edinburgh Office. 

As well ensuring the smooth running of the office, my role includes organising street, supermarket and can collections in Scotland as well as helping with fundraising events. I rely on the help of all our wonderful volunteers, members and supporters, who I thoroughly enjoy meeting.

Page last updated 03.08.16